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Larrimah, NT

A roadhouse-pub on the Stuart Highway near one of the largest dirt airstrips in the country.

There are a number of roadhouses/hotels/pubs along the Stuart Highway at strategic points where travellers can take a break, have a drink and relax before heading off on the long road between Adelaide and Darwin. Larrimah is nothing more than a typical Australian vernacular outback pub, a Big Stubby, a pink panther in a chair, and an interesting World War II dirt airstrip.

Location

Larrimah is located 184 metres above sea level on the Stuart Highway. It is 498 km south of Darwin, 182 km south-east of Katherine and 999 km north of Alice Springs.

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Origin of Name

The Northern Territory place names register records that no information is known about the origin of the name. It has been suggested that it means "meeting place" in the Yangman Aboriginal language.

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Things to See and Do

Gorrie Airstrip
Located 10 km north of Larrimah (ask at the hotel for directions) is the main point of interest in the district: the Gorrie Airstrip. Built during World War II it is reputed to be the largest, dirt airstrip in Australia. Gorrie was the largest army base in Australia during World War II and the airstrip was named after F/OP Peter C Gorrie, No. 2 Squadron RAAF who was killed in action near Menado, Dutch East Indies on 12 January 1942. The airstrip is about 3 km west from the Stuart Highway on a dirt track. Gorrie was used as the supply and maintenance depot for the defence against the Japanese and at the height of the war effort over 6,000 RAAF personnel were stationed in the area. They were all connected with stores, repair and replenishment for the aircraft flying sorties against the Japanese.

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History

* Prior to the arrival of Europeans the area had been occupied for over 40,000 years by the Yangman Aboriginal people.

* In 1862 John McDouall Stuart passed through the area on his transcontinental journey from the Flinders Ranges to the coast of the Northern Territory.

* In 1889 the North Australian railway line from Darwin, known by the locals as 'the line to nowhere', reached Larrimah which was 8 km to the north of the real terminus at Birdum.

* The town, as such, began to develop in 1940 when the Gorrie Airstrip was built to the north.

* During World War II Larrimah became the effective southern terminal of the North Australian railway line.

* In 1952 the pub at Birdum was moved to Larrimah where it became the Larrimah Hotel.

* The railway line was closed down in 1976.

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Visitor Information

The Larrimah Hotel will help with any enquiries about the local area.

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Accommodation

Larrimah Hotel, Stuart Highway, tel: (08) 8975 9931.

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Eating

Larrimah Hotel, Stuart Highway, tel: (08) 8975 9931.

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Useful Websites

There is no specific website for Larrimah.

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Got something to add?

Have we missed something or got a top tip for this town? Have your say below.

15 suggestions
  • Have a picture of the last train leaving Larrimah. Dad was cop there. Barney was our tracker. Think my dad Joseph Scanlan was 2nd last copper there?

    Shannon
  • What about Fran’s Devonshire teas?

    Maggie Kielpinski
  • Was there a Field Hospital at Larrimah or at the Gorrie Airstrip during the Second World War? My Aunty, Honor Prowse’s war record showed she served at Larrimah and Darwin. She was a triple certificate Nursing Sister.

    Jack Irvine
    • I suspect there was. There will be someone who knows. We will wait for their reply.

      Bruce Elder
      • Yes there was field hospital there. During the time I lived there a hospital trolley was sitting on the concrete but I have no idea why I never investigated. As with everything the building would have been buried after the war. My husband was a cop and we were there from September 1976, to June 1978.

        Denise Scanlan
  • Larrimah Hotel has a website which travellers find useful. It is http://www.larrimahhotel.com.au

    Karen Rayner
  • What happened to the Caravan park or garage on the opposite side of the road?

    robert peacey
  • What was the building across the road that is a ruin?

    robert peacey
  • During World War II the motel rooms of pub were the hospital and the pub itself was the office’s mess. This is as I remember it.

    Errol LANGLEY
  • A retirered nurse came in and told us how she had planted the Poinsettia trees during ww2. Sid ,barb Smith had the pink panther with them 1980/1 wen they took over from dad.

    Errol LANGLEY
  • Across the road from Gorrie, was what appeared to be an officers mess, which I had a close look at one day. What caught my attention as I drove past it often, was the steps had two concrete lions heads on them. Hundreds of empty bottles were on the ground and in a 44 gallon drum. It was on the left side coming from Katherine. I saw this and Gorrie airstrip before it became part of the tourist rout.

    Denise Scanlan
  • Has anyone investigated the graveyard south of Larrimah. We saw it, and the trackers mother told us about it. I have a picture of the sign that was then called Birdum War Cemetery. It was a touchy subject back in the 1970’s when enquiries were made. The sign was removed by an army convoy after enquiries were made. Hannah told us who were buried there, so it explains why nothing is known about it.

    Denise Scanlan
  • Does the pub still have the King Brown snakes head? That is there because of us as it killed the puppies our dog had had, and also killed our dog. When they killed it it was attacking the dogs at the pub. One of them was the pups father. They chopped off its head and put it in a jar full of alcohol. This would have been about 1977.

    Denise Scanlan